May 13, 2012

Young Greyhounds Shine in Loyola's OT Win Over Penn

by Clare Lochary | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

BALTIMORE -- Loyola is a young team. But the sixth-seeded Greyhounds don't play that way.

"You can't play young. You've got to play like the big boys. You've got to play on their level," said Greyhounds freshman Hannah Schmitt.

Schmitt played big in Loyola's NCAA first-round match-up versus Penn on Saturday. The attacker scored the game-winner with three seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Greyhounds to a 10-9 victory over the unseeded, visiting Quakers. Freshman attacker Kara Burke (three goals) came off the bench to score a hat trick, including an equalizer in overtime, and freshman midfielder Joanna Dalton (one assist) led all players with five draw controls.

"I knew we needed to help those seniors," said Schmitt.

Schmitt's game-winner came on a fast break that began with a dazzling stop by senior goalie Kerry Stoothoff (10 saves) on Penn's Meredith Cain, who had two goals and one assist. Senior defender Kellye Gallagher grabbed the loose ball off the save and cleared it to freshman midfielder Sydney Thomas (one goal, two assist), who passed to Schmitt when she drew a double team. Schmitt buried the shot in the top left corner, beating Penn goalie Emily Leitner (five saves).

With the win, the Greyhounds (14-5) advance to a quarterfinal game versus third-seeded Maryland at noon Saturday.

"They played with such emotion," said Loyola head coach Jen Adams. "It was a tough-fought lacrosse game."

Penn and Loyola hadn't met since 2005, but the 2012 editions matched up closely – strong defense anchored by excellent goalkeeping and diversified attacks with multiple shooters. The Quakers opened scoring when senior attacker Erin Brennan (two goals, one assist) assisted Cain just 59 seconds into the game. The Greyhounds responded with goals from Marlee Paton (four goals, one assist) and Annie Thomas to take a 2-1 lead. Penn junior midfielder Maddy Poplawski responded 22 seconds later to tie the score at 2-2 just 26:23.

"They went hard," said Gallagher, who had a team-high five caused turnovers and five ground balls. "But with our defense, I knew that I could go out and take those chances."

The frantic pace of game never favored either team, and there were nine ties and five lead changes. Neither team ever led by more than one goal, and big defensive stops by both Leitner and Stoothoff (10 saves) kept either team from pulling ahead late in regulation. Stoothoff stonewalled a Brennan free position shot with less than three minutes to play, and Leitner denied Sydney Thomas in the final 10 seconds of regulation.

"I was waiting for just that crack, that opening. We never got it today," said Adams. "It was a game of possession."

Cain scored just 21 seconds into overtime to give Penn a 9-8 lead. Then Burke scored the equalizer on a free position shot with one second on the clock in the first three-minute extra period. It was Loyola's only free position goal of the day. Penn also had a single free position goal, thanks to Stoothoff's five saves on free position attempts.

"I wanted to bait them a little bit, and luckily they bit into it," said Stoothoff.

In the second overtime period, Penn controlled the draw and got a quality look from Cain, but Stoothoff made the save that set up Schmitt's goal.

"Our game plan was to slow down their fast breaks," said Penn head coach Karin Brower Corbett, whose team ends its season 9-8. "We do have a young defense. We did make a couple of young defensive mistakes in a postseason overtime game."

The Quakers held the Greyhounds to single digits in regulation, a feat that only three other teams this year accomplished. But in the end, Loyola's young attackers came through for its veteran defenders, and all the Greyhounds will advance to the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

"There are teams with more talent than us," said Stoothoff. "But we have a lot of heart."


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